Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

Rich, creamy pumpkin cheesecake covered in salted brown sugar caramel on top of my favorite homemade graham cracker crust. This Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert -- I make it every year!! All three components (the crust, caramel and cheesecake) can be made ahead of time (up to three days). This smooth cheesecake is exploding with holiday flavor and needs zero water bath (win)! xo
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This Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake is one of those recipes that you can make a few days ahead, the whole thing, and not give it another thought until dessert time. I mean, does life get much better?!

This recipe has been a family and blog favorite since 2014!! I gave it a facelift this year so that it is 100% foolproof with lots of how-to photos and my favorite cheesecake tips and tricks.

I added a similar recipe to The Cake Book: Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Cheesecake (it’s in the holiday chapter — SO GOOD), because I love this pumpkin and caramel combination so much (I also have this Pumpkin Bars with Salted Caramel and Toasted Meringue recipe on the blog).

Without more fuss, let’s get to it!

Why You Should Make This Cheesecake

  • Delicious, creamy and LOADED with holiday flavor
  • It comes out perfect, every single time
  • Every single component (The crust! The caramel! The cheesecake!) is make ahead
  • You need zero water, I repeat: ZERO WATER BATH
A slice of pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Inspo!

The inspiration for this pumpkin cheesecake comes from a Food & Wine recipe, mid-2000s. We were in Beijing and, if I’m not mistaken, my mom sent me this particular issue in the mail. It wasn’t especially easy to get US mags in the PRC. And if you could find them they were outdated and expensive.

Over the years I have tweaked and changed things and I’m not sure it resembles the original much, but that’s the origin story!

I’ve been making this cheesecake every Thanksgiving for well over a decade. I hope that your friends and family love it as much as we do!

A whole pumpkin cheesecake covered in caramel with a white background.

A Note About Pumpkin & Cream Cheese

Pumpkin

Make sure you get 100% pure pumpkin puree. My favorite brand for flavor and texture is Libby’s (hands down!).

Previously some people have had to bake the cheesecake longer to get the filling to set and I believe that was because of the moisture in the pumpkin. I’ve added an easy (quick) step to ensure that your pumpkin will be perfectly prepped.

First, you’ll briefly cook it in a saucepan to get rid of any excess moisture whist simultaneously deepening the pumpkin flavor (win!). Then you’ll spread it over some paper towels to get rid of more moisture and by the time you’re ready to add it to the filling, it’s the PERFECT CONSISTENCY.

Cream Cheese

I’m pretty brand-specific about my cheesecake cream cheese as well. It is and will always be Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Get the bars of cream cheese, not the tubs of spreadable cream cheese.

If you can’t find Philadelphia Cream Cheese, use the best that you can get your hands on. Oh, and FULL FAT cream cheese only…none of this reduced-fat or fat-free nonsense.

A pumpkin cheesecake with a slice out of it.

Prepping Your Pumpkin

STEP ONE

First, cook your pumpkin puree in a saucepan. This will do double duty by a) really drawing out and concentrating that pumpkin flavor and b) getting rid of excess moisture so that your cheesecake will set properly.

STEP TWO

Then smear the cooked pumpkin puree over a stack of towels (I use a combo of paper towels and dish towels in the photos). This will get rid of even more moisture. Replace the towels if they become saturated.

By the time you’re ready to add the pumpkin puree to the cheesecake filling it will be THE PERFECT CONSISTENCY. LOVE!

The Cheesecake Crust

My very favorite graham cracker crust recipe is linked here. It’s buttery, perfectly crumbly and tastes fabulous!

This recipe has a nut option of which I love using finely chopped pecans. But feel free to omit the nuts for whatever reasons (the recipe explains how, it’s simple).

The crust can be made up to three days ahead of time.

Salted Brown Sugar Caramel — HELL YA!

My most favorite caramel sauce on the planet! This Salted Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce needs no candy thermometer and has zero fuss to it (and it’s ready in about 10 minutes!).

If the caramel sauce has been in the fridge you’ll need to bring it to room temperature to use. To expedite, you can put it in the microwave for 5- to 10-second bursts. Stir really well to make it glossy and you’re good to go!

Do not add warm/hot caramel to the chilled cheesecake. You’ll start melting your cheesecake. ;)

This brown sugar caramel pairs so well with this cheesecake it’s going to KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. I’ve been saying that a lot lately…

A fork getting a bite out of a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.

Cheesecake Tips

  • Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature
  • Mix everything low and slow. If you whip too much air into your cheesecake you run the risk of cracks
  • Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl throughout the mixing process to make sure that everything is evenly mixed as you go along…this will keeps lumps out of your cheesecake
  • Line your springform pan with parchment. It seems like a little thing, but it really helps release the cheesecake when removing it from the pan
  • Do not tap your cheesecake on the counter pre-bake, that will just create air bubbles (which lead to cracks)
  • No sudden temperature changes. Follow the steps for cooling down your cheesecake exactly as written and it will come out perfect!

*IF* you happen to get a crack do not stress ONE BIT! Since this cheesecake is getting covered in delicious salted brown sugar caramel no one will ever know!

Baker’s Timeline

Day 1

If you’d like to really go hard on the make-ahead route, you can make the crust and caramel sauce three days ahead of time!

Day 2

Make and bake your cheesecake.

Days 3 or 4

Serve and enjoy!

All this said, you can also make everything the day ahead of serving. I just wanted to share a more extended timeline in case you’re having an especially busy week.

This is not a same-day cheesecake. It ideally needs overnight (or at least six hours) in the fridge to chill and set.

A slice of pumpkin cheesecake.

Favorite Cheesecake Tools

Springform Pan — I use this for all of my cheesecakes

Fine-Mesh Sieve — I can’t recommend using a sieve enough when making cheesecake. It will get rid of any rogue air bubbles or cream cheese clumps and is the best!

Spatula

KitchenAid Mixer — I prefer my KitchenAid to a handheld for making cheesecake. Most handheld’s low speed isn’t low enough. I would probably use my arms and a spatula to mix the filling if I didn’t have a KitchenAid.

My favorite Scale 

A slice of cheesecake with a bite out of it.

Some More Holiday/Fall/Winter Deliciousness to Try

Since so many people make this during the holidays, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes to make this time of year including my Easy Cheesy Dinner Rolls, Five-Spice Cranberries, Honey-Caramel Pear Crostata and Five-Spice Fig Jam (such a great appetizer with gooey brie).

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake with a  bite out of it.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake Update!

This recipe has been updated (November 2022) and changed a wee bit. Over the years a handful of people have had to bake the cheesecake longer for it set. I reworked the recipe and that will no longer be a problem! *IF* you loved the previous recipe and want to stick to that one, email me and I will send it to you!

Recipe originally posted December 2014…and I love this photo above from that post! xox

I highly recommend a hot toddy and some holiday music while you make this salted caramel pumpkin cheesecake. I’m cranking out the Burl Ives right now. LOVE. Perhaps a little nip of moonshine? Nobody’ll know.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake

Rich, creamy pumpkin cheesecake covered in salted brown sugar caramel on top of my favorite homemade graham cracker crust. This Salted Caramel Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe is my favorite Thanksgiving dessert — I make it every year!! All three components (the crust, caramel and cheesecake) can be made ahead of time (up to three days). This smooth cheesecake is exploding with holiday flavor and needs zero water bath (win)! xo
4.80 from 5 reviews
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 16 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cheesecake
Keyword: Pumpkin, Cheesecake, Caramel, Thanksgiving, Holiday, Dessert
Servings: 8 Servings

Ingredients

To Start

  • 15 ounces (1 3/4 cups or 425g) pure pureed pumpkin, do not use pumpkin pie filling

For the Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • Homemade Graham Cracker Crust
  • 14 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons (9 g) Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) sea salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 g or 8 oz) heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) fresh squeezed Satsuma (you could sub with a tangerine or orange…I’m just obsessed with Satsuma’s this time of year!)
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) real vanilla extract
  • Salted Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce

Instructions

To Start

  • Add the pumpkin puree to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 8-10 minutes. This will bring out the pumpkin flavor and get rid of excess moisture.

For the Cheesecake

  • Preheat your oven to 400F (200C) and place a heat-safe skillet or Dutch oven on the bottom oven rack. Boil 4 cups (1 L) water and set aside while you prepare your cheesecake filling. 
  • Place the cream cheese, granulated sugar, five-spice powder and salt in the bowl of an electric-stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low for about 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is combined and use the back of a spatula to smash out any lumps.
  • In a small bowl whisk the eggs together and then slowly stream them in with mixer on low for about 2 minutes or until combined. Add in the pumpkin, sour cream, juice and the vanilla; making sure each ingredient is well blended before adding in the next. Mix for an additional 2 minutes on low and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into the cooled crust.
  • Place in the center of the oven and pour the warm water into the skillet on the bottom rack and immediately close the door. Bake the cheesecake for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat 250F (121C) for an additional 45 minutes. When done the center will jiggle a bit and the sides will be set. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in it for 30 minutes with the door open. After 30 minutes, set the cheesecake on the counter and let it sit at room temperature for at least an hour. When cool, wrap tightly in the springform and set in the fridge to chill and set overnight.

To Serve

Notes

MAKE AHEADThis cheesecake is best made ahead and I personally like to do it over several days. I might make the crust + salted caramel one day and then fill it with the cheesecake filling the next day and then serve on the third day after an overnight chill. This all makes it especially perfect for Thanksgiving (or any holiday/event where you’ll have lots more to cook). I recently made it with toasted meringue over the salted caramel — try it!
FREEZING: You can wrap the cheesecake tightly in the springform pan and freeze it for 1 to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, in the fridge overnight.
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

18 Comments

  • Erica November 27, 2020 at 5:04 AM

    4 stars
    Made this for Thanksgiving, and the flavor was PERFECT, but the consistency of the filling was more like pudding than cheesecake. I followed the directions exactly. Baked for 70mins during the 250° phase. Any clue what might have gone wrong? Thanks!! The crust was wonderful!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth November 27, 2020 at 6:02 PM

      Hi Erica! I’m so happy you loved the flavor!! The cheesecake is soft, but it should hold shape, was it able to do that? If not, I wonder what size pan you used? If it was 9-inch, then I would look into the pumpkin you used (what brand?) and confirm that you used large eggs? Also, did the pumpkin have lots of moisture in it—that could make it more difficult for the cheesecake to set. Let me know and we can troubleshoot this for you! Happy holidays to you—thank you for including this dessert on your table!!! xox

      Reply
      • Erica November 28, 2020 at 2:07 AM

        Thanks so much for your reply!

        9in pan, Libby’s brand pumpkin and large eggs. It mostly held its shape; the weight of the caramel sauce made the pointy end of each slice sorta collapse. I let the pumpkin sit on paper towels for about 4hrs and the the towels were completely saturated, corner to corner. Maybe I could have transferred it to clean paper towels and left it a bit longer.

        I’ll def try again. And the crust is a keeper for sure! :)

        Reply
        • Rebecca Firth November 28, 2020 at 2:21 AM

          Of course!! You did everything right!! Libby’s is THE BEST!!!

          I’m going to freshen up this post for next holiday season and I will do some troubleshooting for us. So so happy you liked it!! xox

          Reply
  • Mariangela November 24, 2020 at 11:50 PM

    Hi, I don’t see an oven temperature specific to the cheesecake filling. Is it 350 for the crust and the cheesecake as well?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth November 25, 2020 at 12:18 AM

      Hi Mariangela!
      Thank you so much for reaching out with this question. I just transferred to a new recipe card/format and it looks like that was cut off in the process. I just added it back into the recipe. Thank you for the note, I really appreciate it. Please reach out with any more questions!! xoxo

      Reply
      • Mariangela November 25, 2020 at 2:15 AM

        Oh no!!! Thank you for getting back to me so soon but I was in a time crunch and cooked it for an hour at 350. It’s very jiggly in the middle bit cooked on top. It also cracked a bit around the top edges. Do you think it can be salvaged?

        Reply
        • Rebecca Firth November 25, 2020 at 2:18 AM

          Of course, no problem!!! If it’s cooked around the edges and has some jiggle in the middle it sounds perfect. I wouldn’t worry about the crack. One of my favorite parts of this cheesecake is that you can pour the caramel over the top and it makes everything fabulous!! Let me know how it goes!!! xoxo

          Reply
          • Mariangela November 25, 2020 at 2:20 AM

            Ok whew! Need this for thanksgiving and don’t want to go to the store again haha.
            Thanks so much for your responsiveness! I’m a huge fan and anytime I bake, it’s only your recipes!

        • Rebecca Firth November 25, 2020 at 3:09 AM

          Thank you so much for your sweet words — that means the world to me!! I hope you enjoy every last bite. Happy Thanksgiving Mariangela — sending love to you and your family!! xoxo

          Reply
          • Mariangela November 27, 2020 at 5:48 PM

            5 stars
            Update: shared with my family on thanksgiving and it was the star of the night. It was unanimously agreed that this was the most perfect cheesecake ever! Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes and being so responsive in a pinch!

          • Rebecca Firth November 27, 2020 at 6:03 PM

            I am SO HAPPY to hear that—literally makes my day! I hope you all had the best holiday Mariangela!!! xox

  • Christi November 21, 2020 at 5:17 PM

    Hi this looks so amazing and I am going to attempt it but I accidentally bought half and half. I have 8oz of heavy cream and 16 oz of half and half. Do you think the caramel would still work with half and half subbed for cream?

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth November 21, 2020 at 5:20 PM

      Hi Christi!
      I haven’t made it with half and half, but I honestly think it will work fine!! Let me know how it goes — so excited you’re making it!! xoxo

      Reply
  • 2pots2cook November 28, 2017 at 6:34 AM

    Sweet Heavens ! So glad to find this cake ! It is not the occasion that matters, it’s the mood :-) So, I’m in the mood to bake. Thank you so much !

    Reply
  • Elena October 13, 2017 at 10:14 AM

    He descubierto tu blog me encanta ,me gusta todo tengo que usar el traductor pues soy de España.Tus fotos tu forma de hablar llegas a los sentimientos bravo .saludos desde Mi tierra Coruña en España.
    Elena
    de :
    misrubiasuyo blog.wordpress.com

    Reply
  • DisplacedHousewife December 9, 2015 at 8:53 PM

    Hi Lauren, I don’t. When I created this recipe I didn’t use a water bath. You’ll see just above the recipe I link to another cheesecake recipe of mine with tips and it does suggest a water bath. I need to go back and incorporate the water bath (or note it) into this recipe because I really do believe that it helps to keep cracks at bay. I hope you make it — it’s one of our favorite holiday recipes!! xo

    Reply
  • Lauren December 9, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    Hi! You don’t mentioned a water bath here / yes? No? Thxo

    Reply

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